Countering the Far Right: An Anthology

By Dr Rakib Ehsan and Dr Paul Stott

Countering the Far Right: An Anthology offers answers to burning questions in the debate over far-right extremism.  Today, dispute rages over issues as fundamental as what constitutes the ‘far right’ and whether the ‘far right’ stems from an extremist political ideology, or is motivated by religious or ethnic prejudice.

Formed of nine chapters, the anthology builds on a three-part series of events which were hosted by HJS over the course of 2019. The events included contributions from all sides of the political spectrum, as well as academics and leading thinkers in the fields of counterterrorism and combatting extremism.

In Chapter 1, Ben Pierce examines the use of the internet by far-right extremists, dating back as far as 1984. In doing so, he sheds light on new techniques employed by organisations and actors to use web forums and new messaging boards to communicate ideas.

Nikita Malik, in Chapter 2, examines how definitional ambiguities around a concept of extremism complicate efforts to understand the behaviour of far-right cyber-actors, meaning many individuals and organisations continue to have a strong presence on widely accessible platforms such as Twitter.

Chapter 3 sees Andrew Staniforth examine how northern England has proven to be a recruiting ground for far-right extremists. He goes on to explore the difficulties that authorities face in combating a threat that is challenging neighbourhood safety and national security.

Chapter 4 is an essay from Dr Paul Stott who advances the view that while the British far right has historically been too weak to sustain an enduring terrorist group, the evolving threat of ‘lone wolf’ actors means there is no room for complacency when it comes to countering far-right extremism.

Dr Paul Jackson reflects in Chapter 5 on the reinvention of male-dominated neo-Nazi cultures within far-right groups such as National Action, and how increased networking with counterparts in the United States could facilitate the development of a truly global neo-Nazi movement.

In Chapter 6, Dr Rakib Ehsan studies the complexity of far-right terrorist manifestos, investigating the ideological components of these documents and puts forward a number of policy recommendations for the future.

Chapter 7 is a piece by Sadie Chana which suggests several responses to the rise of the far right in the United Kingdom, highlighting areas for improvement and renewal.

Chapter 8 by Professor Eric Kaufmann offers an analysis of changes in wider-society’s demographic composition and how they feed into populist politics makes an interesting read, and puts forward a flexible ‘multivocal’ approach to nationhood, in which people of different backgrounds identify with the nation in their own way.

Through his contribution in Chapter 9, Dr Craig McCann makes a case for better integrating communities as a way of neutralising the threat of the far right in the United Kingdom. This echoes points raised in the same vein by Dame Louise Casey when she was asked by the Home Office to undertake a review into integration and opportunity in Britain’s most isolated and deprived communities.

Taken together, this compilation of essays makes essential reading for anyone interested in the rise of the far right in the United Kingdom and globally, the use of the internet to spread extremist views, the risks of global networking, and the renewal of far-right movements. It puts forward realistic policy solutions to counter these trends and threats.

Read the report here

In the words of the co-editor:

“With far-right extremism being the fastest-growing terror threat in the UK and indication that neo-Nazi organisations are looking to exploit the COVID-19 pandemic, this anthology represents an important and timely intervention. Drawing on the expert knowledge of individuals who have worked in the security world, as well as respected scholars in relevant fields, it fleshes out the drivers of contemporary far-right extremism and proposes practical policy solutions to counter its spread”

Dr Rakib Ehsan


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